WHAT MAKES you happy? What will make Filipinos and the Philippines happy?
For the first time on Wednesday, March 20, the world will observe “International Day of Happiness.”
The United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement located the role of “happiness” in the global sphere of rights, wants, and needs of peoples the world over that continue to be ignored, neglected, or violated in many parts.
“The pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavors,” said the UN Secretary-General. “People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want, and in harmony with nature.”
Aspire, we all do. But the UN is the first to acknowledge that that is all that many people could do. “Basic material well-being is still elusive for far too many living in extreme poverty.”
The world, indeed, is not yet such a happy place. Ban Ki-moon wrote: “For many more, recurring socio-economic crises, violence and crime, environmental degradation and increasing threats of climate change are an ever-present threat.”
The UN official said that at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development held last year, UN member-states “agreed on the need for a balanced approach to sustainable development by integrating its three pillars – economic growth, social development and environmental protection.”
The UN members “recognized that in order to better inform policy decisions, broader measures of progress should complement Gross Domestic Product.”
“I am encouraged by the efforts of some Governments to design policies based on comprehensive well-being indicators. I encourage others to follow suit,” he said. “On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others.”
Growth by GDP stats alone do not matter as much indeed, especially when majority of the citizens remain in penury. Indeed, Ban Ki-moon sad, “when we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”
It was Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who coined the term “gross national happiness” in 1972, “to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.”
The King had remarked casually that, “gross national happiness is more important than gross domestic product.”
The Center for Bhutan Studies later developed the King’s comment into a concept with quantitative and qualitative measures if “general level of well-being.”
Scholars and researchers later helped Bhutan define what they called “eight general contributors to happiness: “physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality.”
Several other nations, including the Philippines through the National Statistical Coordination Board under then Director-General Romulo Virola, later built on the concept to derive their own national happiness indices.
However, the 2012 World Happiness Report released last October actually ranked the Filipinos “among the least happy” in the world. Out of 155 countries surveyed, the Philippines ranked 103rd in the report published by Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
The survey assessed peoples of the world based on their “life evaluation score,” which covers such factors as “good health, access to education, political freedom, quality of relationships, and trusting communities.”
Northern Europe, “a region with bitterly cold winters but apparently a high level of contentment,” is home to the happiest peoples of the world. Denmark ranked No.1, followed by Finland, The Netherlands, and Norway. Canada placed fifth, and the United States, 11th.
So, please tell us: What makes you happy? And what will make Filipinos and the Philippines happy?